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1.  Simplified sample processing combined with a sensitive one-tube nested PCR assay for detection of Pneumocystis carinii in respiratory specimens. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1997;35(7):1691-1695.
Early diagnosis of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, a life-threatening complication in immunosuppressed patients, may lower morbidity and mortality. We have developed a one-tube nested PCR assay for the detection of P. carinii in respiratory specimens. Four primers were selected from the sequence of the small-subunit rRNA gene of P. carinii to amplify a 265-bp fragment, and their specificities for P. carinii were confirmed by both theoretical evaluations (by computer-assisted comparison with the sequences in GenBank) and empirical evaluations (with DNA from medically important fungi and diagnostic samples). The assay was optimized for routine diagnostic use. Processing of the clinical samples is rapid and simple (digestion with proteinase K directly in PCR buffer at room temperature in the presence of 10% Chelex 100 and no further purification steps). Bovine serum albumin (1 mg/ml) and glycerol (10%) in the amplification buffer reduced the number of samples inhibitory to the PCR, as assessed by control reactions containing a size-modified target. A total of 749 clinical specimens (312 bronchoalveolar lavage, 403 sputum or induced sputum, and 34 other specimens) from 507 patients (295 human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]-infected and 164 non-HIV-infected patients and 48 patients whose HIV status was unknown) were tested by PCR, and the results were compared with those of an indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA). Concordant results were obtained for 732 samples (646 negative and 86 positive). There were 17 discrepant results: 12 were PCR positive and IFA negative, and 5 were PCR negative and IFA positive. After resolution of the discrepant results by review of the patients' clinical data, the sensitivity and specificity were 94.8 and 99.1%, respectively, for PCR and 93.8 and 100%, respectively, for IFA. In conclusion, the short procedure time and the technical ease of this PCR assay render it suitable for implementation in routine diagnostic laboratories.
PMCID: PMC229823  PMID: 9196175
2.  Usefulness of PCR for diagnosis of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in different patient groups. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1997;35(6):1445-1449.
Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) is one of the most predominant opportunistic infectious diseases in patients with AIDS. Nested PCR has been described as a sensitive and specific tool for detecting P. carinii DNA in clinical specimens. Little is known about the correlation of positive PCR results and clinical evidence of PCP in patients with different forms of immunosuppression. One hundred and thirty-six sputum samples, 26 tracheal-bronchial aspirate samples, 35 bronchoalveolar lavage samples, and 11 lung biopsy samples from (i) human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients with AIDS, (ii) immunocompromised patients with leukemia or lymphoma, and (iii) immunocompetent control patients were investigated by a nested PCR amplifying DNA from the mitochondrial large subunit of P. carinii. All patients suffered from acute episodes of respiratory disease. The resulting data were correlated with clinical evidence of PCP. A high degree of association of positive P. carinii PCR results and clinical evidence of PCP in HIV-infected patients with AIDS was found. When calculated for bronchoalveolar lavage and lung biopsy samples, the positive and the negative predictive values of P. carinii PCR for PCP diagnosis in HIV-infected patients with AIDS were 1 and the specificity and the sensitivity were 100%. In contrast, in the group of patients with leukemia or lymphoma, the positive predictive value of the nested PCR for these materials was found to be as low as 0.09, the negative predictive value was 0.73, the specificity was 44.4%, and the sensitivity was 25.0%. No P. carinii DNA could be detected in specimens from immunocompetent patients. In summary, in contrast to patients with leukemia and lymphoma, nested PCR seems to be a sensitive and specific tool for PCP diagnosis in HIV-infected patients with AIDS.
PMCID: PMC229764  PMID: 9163459
3.  Rapid detection of Pneumocystis carinii in bronchoalveolar lavage specimens from human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients: use of a simple DNA extraction procedure and nested PCR. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1997;35(11):2748-2751.
We report on the development of a rapid nested PCR protocol for the detection of Pneumocystis carinii DNA in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimens in which the protocol included the use of a commercially available DNA extraction kit (GeneReleaser). GeneReleaser enabled us to obtain amplification-ready DNA within 20 min without requiring the purification of the DNA. The nested PCR was performed with the primers pAZ102-E, pAZ102-H, and pAZ102-L2 (A. E. Wakefield, F. J. Pixley, S. Banerji, K. Sinclair, R. F. Miller, E. R. Moxon, and J. M. Hopkin, Lancet 336:451-453, 1990.). Results were obtained in about 4 h with the adoption of denaturation, annealing, and extension steps shortened to 20 seconds. The sensitivity of the nested PCR was tested with a P. carinii cyst suspension and was found to be less than one cyst (one to eight nuclei). The detection limit was the same with the use of GeneReleaser or proteinase K-phenol chloroform for DNA extraction. The nested PCR assay was prospectively compared with staining with Giemsa and methenamine silver stains for the detection of P. carinii in 127 BAL samples from 105 human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients investigated for acute respiratory illness. Twenty-five BAL specimens (20%) were positive by staining and the nested PCR and 25 (20%) were negative by staining and positive by the nested PCR. These 25 BAL specimens with conflicting results were obtained from 23 patients, 82% of whom were receiving prophylactic therapy against P. carinii pneumonia (PCP). Only two patients were diagnosed with possible PCP. The final diagnosis was not PCP for 20 patients who were considered to be colonized or to have a low level of infection. This colonization is not of clinical importance but is of epidemiological importance. Our rapid, simple, and sensitive amplification protocol may be performed in clinical laboratories for the routine diagnosis of PCP with BAL specimens.
PMCID: PMC230054  PMID: 9350726
4.  PCR detection of Pneumocystis carinii in bronchoalveolar lavage specimens: analysis of sensitivity and specificity. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1997;35(4):830-835.
Although PCR detection of Pneumocystis carinii DNA has been described, little is known about the sensitivity or specificity of the assay in routine laboratory practice. We had the unique opportunity to use a bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimen bank with samples for which the direct examination results for P. carinii were known. DNA purified from 129 selected specimens was amplified by using the primers described previously (A. E. Wakefield, F. J. Pixley, S. Banerji, K. Sinclair, R. F. Miller, E. R. Moton, and J. M. Hopkin, Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 43:69-76, 1990). Of the 129 specimens, 37 were positive for P. carinii by direct examination. All 37 specimens were positive for P. carinii by PCR, yielding a 100% sensitivity and 100% negative predictive value for the assay. An additional 23 specimens were repeatedly positive for P. carinii by PCR but were not positive by direct examination. Review of the patient charts for these specimens with discordant results demonstrated that five of the patients were actually positive for P. carinii, as determined by either biopsy or examination of repeat or prior BAL specimens. A response to empiric therapy for P. carinii pneumonia was seen in an additional two patients. Of the remaining specimens, 8 produced no significant isolates other than P. carinii, while 12 contained culture-confirmed significant respiratory pathogens in addition to P. carinii (two fungal, nine bacterial, and one viral pathogen). Cytomegalovirus, which was of unknown significance, was isolated from 16 additional specimens. Overall, the specificity of the PCR assay was 79.3% compared to the results of direct examination. We hypothesized that the apparently poor specificity of the PCR assay was due to the increased sensitivity of the assay compared to that of direct examination. The sensitivity of the PCR assay was therefore assessed with BAL specimens containing P. carinii cysts. Serial dilutions of this preparation were evaluated by direct examination and PCR. PCR was found to be 100-fold more sensitive than direct examination, which detected one to two cysts per amplification. No false-positive results were detected in controls containing no DNA or by using target DNA from various fungal, viral, or bacterial respiratory pathogens. We conclude that PCR detection of P. carinii in BAL specimens is very sensitive and should be considered for patients whose specimens do not yield a diagnosis. The increased sensitivity of the PCR assay may help to identify those patients with low-titer infections who might benefit from directed antibiotic therapy for P. carinii and would otherwise be missed by direct examination alone.
PMCID: PMC229684  PMID: 9157136
5.  Evaluation of Diagnostic Value and Epidemiological Implications of PCR for Pneumocystis carinii in Different Immunosuppressed and Immunocompetent Patient Groups 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(4):1461-1467.
To evaluate the value of single and nested PCRs for diagnosis of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) in a variety of respiratorily distressed patient groups, 574 respiratory samples from 334 patients (89 human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]-positive patients, 61 transplant recipients, 66 malignancy patients, 34 otherwise immunosuppressed patients, and 84 immunocompetent patients) were prospectively examined by microscopy and single and nested PCRs. The resulting data were correlated with clinical evidence of PCP. Microscopy and single PCR of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimens from HIV patients were 100% sensitive and specific in detecting PCP, whereas nested PCR, although being 100% sensitive, reached a specificity of only 97.5%. In the three non-HIV immunosuppressed patient groups, both single and nested PCR invariably produced lower positive predictive values than microscopy. Among immunocompetent patients, the positive predictive values of both PCRs were 0%. Therefore, the diagnostic values of the PCR methods tested do not seem to offer any additional advantage compared to that of conventional microscopy for these patient groups. However, nested PCR identified a significant percentage of clinically silent P. carinii colonizations in about 17 to 20% of immunocompetent and immunosuppressed non-HIV patients.
PMCID: PMC86465  PMID: 10747126
6.  Decreased Production of Local Immunoglobulin A to Pneumocystis carinii in Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid from Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Positive Patients 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(3):1054-1060.
An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and a Western blot analysis were developed to study the antibody response to Pneumocystis carinii in serum and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from 27 human immunodeficiency virus 27 (HIV)-infected patients with P. carinii pneumonia (Pcp), 32 patients without Pcp, and 51 HIV-negative controls. Urea was used for the correct dilution of epithelial lining fluid, and albumin was used to evaluate transudation from plasma for the assessment of local production of antibodies to P. carinii. By contrast with those of immunoglobulin G (IgG), IgA responses to P. carinii were increased in serum from HIV-positive patients compared to negative controls. Local production of antibodies to P. carinii, especially IgA, was decreased in patients with Pcp. In a study of 10 patients of each group, IgG and IgA responses to gp116 from P. carinii were lower in patients with Pcp than in other groups. These results suggest that, in addition to alveolar macrophages, local antibodies may play a role in host defense against P. carinii.
PMCID: PMC97248  PMID: 10678907
7.  Comparison of PCR and standard cytological staining for detection of Pneumocystis carinii from respiratory specimens from patients with or at high risk for infection by human immunodeficiency virus. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1995;33(11):3004-3007.
The detection of Pneumocystis carinii DNA by PCR was compared with routine cytologic staining techniques (CYT). A total of 284 clinical respiratory specimens, including 137 bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), 63 bronchoalveolar washing, 63 sputum, and 21 induced sputum samples, obtained from patients with or at high risk for human immunodeficiency virus infection were evaluated. Eighty specimens were positive by PCR, and 69 were positive by CYT. PCR was able to detect P. carinii in more bronchoalveolar washing specimens (15 versus 11) and in comparable BAL specimens (53 versus 54) compared with CYT. PCR was particularly more sensitive than CYT in detecting P. carinii in expectorated sputum (12 versus 4 samples). Of the 19 patients whose respiratory specimens were positive for P. carinii by PCR but negative by CYT, 5 had P. carinii pneumonia (PCP) confirmed by subsequent BAL and transbronchial or mediastinal lymph node biopsy and 9 had a clinical course highly suggestive of acute PCP. Eleven (58%) of the 19 patients with discordant PCR and CYT results had received prior anti-PCP prophylaxis. In this clinical setting in particular and in the evaluation of sputum specimens, the ability of PCR to detect a low parasitic load suggests that this technique may become an important additional tool, along with current cytological methods, for the detection of P. carinii.
PMCID: PMC228623  PMID: 8576362
8.  Development and Evaluation of a Quantitative, Touch-Down, Real-Time PCR Assay for Diagnosing Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2002;40(2):490-494.
A rapid (time to completion, <4 h, including DNA extraction) and quantitative touch-down (QTD) real-time diagnostic Pneumocystis carinii PCR assay with an associated internal control was developed, using fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) probes for detection. The touch-down procedure significantly increased the sensitivity of the assay compared to a non-touch-down procedure. Tenfold serial dilutions of a cloned target were used as standards for quantification. P. carinii DNA has been detected in respiratory specimens from patients with P. carinii pneumonia (PCP) and from patients without clinical evidence of PCP. The latter probably represents colonization or subclinical infection. It is logical to hypothesize that quantification might prove helpful in distinguishing between infected and colonized patients: the latter group would have lower copy numbers than PCP patients. A blinded retrospective study of 98 respiratory samples (49 lower respiratory tract specimens and 49 oral washes), from 51 patients with 24 episodes of PCP and 34 episodes of other respiratory disease, was conducted. PCR-positive samples from colonized patients contained a lower concentration of P. carinii DNA than samples from PCP patients: lower respiratory tract samples from PCP and non-PCP patients contained a median of 938 (range, 2.4 to 1,040,000) and 2.6 (range, 0.3 to 248) (P < 0.0004) copies per tube, respectively. Oral washes from PCP and non-PCP patients contained a median of 49 (range, 2.1 to 2,595) and 6.5 (range, 2.2 to 10) (P < 0.03) copies per tube, respectively. These data suggest that this QTD PCR assay can be used to determine if P. carinii is present in respiratory samples and to distinguish between colonization and infection.
PMCID: PMC153364  PMID: 11825961
9.  Quantitative and qualitative comparison of DNA amplification by PCR with immunofluorescence staining for diagnosis of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1993;46(2):140-144.
AIM: To compare the results of DNA amplification by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with immunofluorescence staining for detecting Pneumocystis carinii in bronchoalveolar lavage specimens taken from symptomatic HIV seropositive patients with suspected P carinii pneumonia (PCP). METHODS: Bronchoalveolar lavage specimens were obtained from 28 symptomatic HIV seropositive patients. Specimens were examined for P carinii using immunofluorescence, and by DNA amplification with PCR to obtain results on gel electrophoresis (gel) and a more sensitive Southern hybridisation (blot) technique. Specimens positive by immunofluorescence and gel electrophoresis were serially diluted to a 10(-6) concentration and each dilution strength tested for P carinii using PCR to compare quantitatively immunofluorescence with PCR. RESULTS: Of the 28 specimens analysed, 18 were negative for P carinii by both immunofluorescence and PCR, two were positive only by the blot technique of PCR, four were equivocally positive and four unequivocally positive by immunofluorescence. Three of the four equivocally positive patients tested by immunofluorescence were negative for P carinii by PCR, although one was positive by PCR (blot) technique. This patient had clinically confirmed PCP. Of the four unequivocally positive patients tested by immunofluorescence, three were gel and blot positive by PCR and had PCP clinically, but one was negative by both gel and blot techniques, although the patient certainly had PCP on clinical grounds. This patient had received nine days of treatment with high dose co-trimoxazole before bronchoalveolar lavage specimens were obtained. The three specimens positive by gel and blot techniques remained gel positive down to dilutions of between 10(-4) and 10(-6). CONCLUSIONS: PCR results may become negative soon after starting treatment for PCP. Specimens should therefore be taken before, or soon after, starting treatment. PCR seems to be between 10(4) and 10(6) times more sensitive than immunofluorescence.
PMCID: PMC501145  PMID: 8459034
10.  Evaluation of an indirect fluorescent-antibody stain for detection of Pneumocystis carinii in respiratory specimens. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1990;28(5):975-979.
Two prospective studies were undertaken to evaluate a commercial indirect fluorescent-antibody (IFA) stain for the detection of Pneumocystis carinii in respiratory specimens from individuals at risk for or with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The first study compared IFA with Diff-Quik (DQ; a rapid Giemsa-like stain) for detecting P. carinii in 95 induced sputa obtained from 77 asymptomatic patients who had survived one previous episode of P. carinii pneumonia and who were being treated prophylactically with aerosolized pentamidine. Only one induced sputum specimen was found to contain P. carinii; organisms were detected by both stains. The second study compared the performance of the IFA stain versus DQ, modified toluidine blue O, and Gomori methenamine silver stains for detecting P. carinii in symptomatic individuals at risk for or with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Of 182 specimens examined, P. carinii was detected in 105 by one or more stains; the DQ stain detected 73 (70%), the modified toluidine blue O stain detected 75 (71%), the Gomori methenamine silver stain detected 76 (72%), and the IFA stain detected 95 (90%). The IFA stain was more sensitive (P less than 0.01) than the other traditional stains for detecting P. carinii; however, a subsequent clinical evaluation revealed that a subset of IFA-positive-only specimens were from patients whose clinical symptoms resolved without specific anti-P. carinii therapy.
PMCID: PMC267849  PMID: 1693631
11.  Clinical Significance of Quantifying Pneumocystis jirovecii DNA by Using Real-Time PCR in Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid from Immunocompromised Patients 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(2):227-231.
Quantitative PCR (qPCR) is more sensitive than microscopy for detecting Pneumocystis jirovecii in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid. We therefore developed a qPCR assay and compared the results with those of a routine immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and clinical data. The assay included automated DNA extraction, amplification of the mitochondrial large-subunit rRNA gene and an internal control, and quantification of copy numbers with the help of a plasmid clone. We studied 353 consecutive BAL fluids obtained for investigation of unexplained fever and/or pneumonia in 287 immunocompromised patients. No qPCR inhibition was observed. Seventeen (5%) samples were both IFA and qPCR positive, 63 (18%) were IFA negative and qPCR positive, and 273 (77%) were both IFA and qPCR negative. The copy number was significantly higher for IFA-positive/qPCR-positive samples than for IFA-negative/qPCR-positive samples (4.2 ± 1.2 versus 1.1 ± 1.1 log10 copies/μl; P < 10−4). With IFA as the standard, the qPCR assay sensitivity was 100% for ≥2.6 log10 copies/μl and the specificity was 100% for ≥4 log10 copies/μl. Since qPCR results were not available at the time of decision-making, these findings did not trigger cotrimoxazole therapy. Patients with systemic inflammatory diseases and IFA-negative/qPCR-positive BAL fluid had a worse 1-year survival rate than those with IFA-negative/qPCR-negative results (P < 10−3), in contrast with solid-organ transplant recipients (P = 0.88) and patients with hematological malignancy (P = 0.26). Quantifying P. jirovecii DNA in BAL fluids independently of IFA positivity should be incorporated into the investigation of pneumonia in immunocompromised patients. The relevant threshold remains to be determined and may vary according to the underlying disease.
PMCID: PMC3264196  PMID: 22162560
12.  Identification of Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. hominis Gene Sequences in Filtered Air in Hospital Environments 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1998;36(6):1737-1740.
To evaluate the risk of a nosocomial spread of Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. hominis (P. carinii hominis), air filter samples from rooms of P. carinii pneumonia (PCP) patients, adjacent corridors, and other hospital environments have been investigated for the presence of P. carinii hominis. Amplified DNA from air filters and sputum or bronchoalveolar lavage samples from the PCP patients have been genotyped with the P. carinii hominis genes of the mitochondrial large-subunit (mtLSU) rRNA and the internal transcribed spacers (ITS1 and ITS2) of the rRNA. Genotypes of the two loci were identified by direct sequencing, and for site 85 of the mtLSU locus, three allele-specific PCR assays were used. P. carinii hominis DNA was identified in the air of five of seven PCP patient rooms and in the air of two of four air filtrations from the ward corridors. The P. carinii hominis genotypes were the same in four of the five room air samples as those in the corresponding patients, suggesting a risk of person-to-person transmission of P. carinii hominis from PCP patients. Three of 16 air samples collected in infectious disease wards without the presence of PCP patients and one sample from a cardiology unit in a separate hospital building were also positive, which further strengthens the possibility of acquisition of P. carinii hominis from the environment.
PMCID: PMC104910  PMID: 9620410
13.  Study of internal transcribed spacer and mitochondrial large-subunit genes of Pneumocystis carinii hominis isolated by repeated bronchoalveolar lavage from human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients during one or several episodes of pneumonia. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1997;35(7):1687-1690.
The objective of this study was to type, analyze, and compare Pneumocystis carinii hominis strains obtained from different samples during a given or recurrent episodes of P. carinii pneumonia (PCP) for epidemiologic purposes. We studied 36 bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) or induced sputum (IS) samples from 16 human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients with one or several episodes of PCP. PCR amplification and direct sequencing were performed on the two internal transcribed spacers (ITS1 and ITS2) of P. carinii hominis rRNA genes by using DNA extracted from BAL or IS samples, and the sequences were compared to the mitochondrial large-subunit (mt LSU) gene sequence determined in a previous study in our laboratory. The studies of the mt LSU and ITS sequences showed that some patients (n = 10) were infected with the same strains of P. carinii hominis during a given episode of PCP. In one patient infected with strains with identical sequences in several episodes, the recurrence could have been due to reactivation of organisms not eliminated by treatment during the first episode or to de novo infection by an identical strain. In five patients infected with strains with different sequences in each episode, recurrence was due to de novo infection. Sequence analysis of these two P. carinii hominis gene regions showed that de novo infection can occur in AIDS patients with recurrent PCP.
PMCID: PMC229822  PMID: 9196174
14.  Detection of Pneumocystis carinii DNA in Blood Specimens from Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Patients by Nested PCR 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(1):127-131.
The detection of Pneumocystis carinii DNA in blood by PCR could be useful for studying the natural history of pneumocystosis and could also be a noninvasive diagnostic method. The results of previous studies are nevertheless conflicting. In our study, we compared three commercially available DNA extraction kits (GeneReleaser, QIAamp Tissue Kit, and ReadyAmp Genomic DNA Purification System) and proteinase K and proteinase K-phenol-chloroform treatments for the extraction of P. carinii DNA from dilutions of a P. carinii f. sp. hominis cyst suspension mixed with human whole blood. A rapid and simple nested PCR protocol which amplifies a portion of the mitochondrial large-subunit rRNA gene was applied to all the extraction products. The QIAmp Tissue Kit was the most effective kit for the isolation of amplification-ready P. carinii DNA and was used with nested PCR for the testing of whole-blood specimens from 35 immunocompetent control patients and 84 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients investigated for pulmonary disease and/or fever. In HIV-infected patients, P. carinii DNA was detected by nested PCR in blood samples from 3 of 14 patients with microscopically proven P. carinii pneumonia, 7 of 22 patients who were considered to be colonized with P. carinii, and 9 of 48 patients who were neither infected nor colonized with P. carinii. P. carinii DNA was not detected in blood specimens from the 35 immunocompetent patients. P. carinii DNA in blood might represent viable P. carinii organisms or DNA complexes released from pulmonary phagocytes. In conclusion, P. carinii DNA may be detected in whole blood from HIV-infected patients, but the nature and the meaning of the circulating form of P. carinii remain to be established.
PMCID: PMC84186  PMID: 9854076
15.  Sterols of Pneumocystis carinii hominis Organisms Isolated from Human Lungs 
The opportunistic pathogen Pneumocystis carinii causes pneumonia (P. carinii pneumonia, or PCP) in immunocompromised individuals such as AIDS patients. Rat-derived P. carinii carinii organisms have distinct sterols which are not synthesized by mammals and not found in other microbes infecting mammalian lungs. The dominant sterol present in the organism is cholesterol (which is believed to be scavenged from the host), but other sterols in P. carinii carinii have an alkyl group at C-24 of the sterol side chain (C28 and C29 24-alkylsterols) and a double bond at C-7 of the nucleus. Recently, pneumocysterol (C32), which is essentially lanosterol with a C-24 ethylidene group, was detected in lipids extracted from a formalin-fixed human P. carinii-infected lung, and its structures were elucidated by gas-liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry in conjunction with analyses of chemically synthesized authentic standards. The sterol composition of isolated P. carinii hominis organisms has yet to be reported. If P. carinii from animal models is to be used for identifying potential drug targets and for developing chemotherapeutic approaches to clear human infections, it is important to determine whether the 24-alkylsterols of organisms found in rats are also present in organisms in humans. In the present study, sterol analyses of P. carinii hominis organisms isolated from cryopreserved human P. carinii-infected lungs and from bronchoalveolar lavage fluid were performed. Several of the same distinct sterols (e.g., fungisterol and methylcholest-7-ene-3β-ol) previously identified in P. carinii carinii were also present in organisms isolated from human specimens. Pneumocysterol was detected in only some of the samples.
PMCID: PMC95807  PMID: 10548595
16.  Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. hominis DNA in Immunocompetent Health Care Workers in Contact with Patients with P. carinii Pneumonia 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(11):3877-3882.
The possible transmission of Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. hominis from patients with P. carinii pneumonia to asymptomatic health care workers (HCW), with or without occupational exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients with P. carinii pneumonia, was examined. HCW in a specialist inpatient HIV-AIDS facility and a control group in the general medical-respiratory service in the same hospital provided induced sputum and/or nasal rinse samples, which were analyzed for the presence of P. carinii f. sp. hominis DNA by using DNA amplification (at the gene encoding the mitochondrial large subunit rRNA [mt LSU rRNA]). P. carinii f. sp. hominis DNA was detected in some HCW samples; those with the closest occupational contact were more likely to have detectable P. carinii DNA. P. carinii DNA was detected in one HCW who carried out bronchoscopy over a 2-year period. P. carinii-positive samples were genotyped by using DNA sequence variations at the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of the nuclear rRNA operon, along with bronchoalveolar lavage samples from patients with P. carinii pneumonia hospitalized at the same time. Genotyping identified 31 different P. carinii f. sp. hominis ITS genotypes, 26 of which were found in the patient samples. Five of the eight ITS genotypes detected in HCW samples were not observed in the patient samples. The results suggested that HCW in close occupational contact with patients who had P. carinii pneumonia may have become colonized with P. carinii. Carriage was asymptomatic and did not result in the development of clinical disease.
PMCID: PMC88458  PMID: 11682501
17.  Inhibition of Pneumocystis carinii dihydropteroate synthetase by para-acetamidobenzoic acid: possible mechanism of action of isoprinosine in human immunodeficiency virus infection. 
Isoprinosine has been reported to decrease progression to AIDS, primarily by preventing Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients, but the mechanism of action is unknown. para-Acetamidobenzoic acid (PAcBA), one component of isoprinosine, is structurally related to para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), a precursor of de novo folate synthesis. This pathway is known to be important for P. carinii because sulfonamides, which are effective anti-P. carinii agents, inhibit incorporation of PABA into folate precursors by the enzyme dihydropteroate synthetase (DHPS). Inhibition of P. carinii DHPS by PAcBA was investigated by using two assays. In short-term cultures of P. carinii from rats, [3H]PABA incorporation into reduced folates was inhibited by both isoprinosine (mean +/- standard error 50% inhibitory concentration [IC50], 20 +/- 8.4 microM) and PAcBA free acid (IC50, 240 +/- 100 microM); a soluble PAcBA salt was more potent than PAcBA free acid alone (IC50, 29 +/- 48 microM). The activity of PAcBA free acid was confirmed in a cell-free DHPS inhibition assay (IC50, 120 +/- 120 microM). Inosine and dimethylaminopropanol, two other components of isoprinosine, were poor inhibitors of PABA incorporation (IC50, > 1,000 microM). PAcBA free acid also showed activity in inhibiting the DHPS of Toxoplasma gondii, but was a poor inhibitor of the DHPSs of Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In a rat model of PCP, the PAcBA salt administered intraperitoneally demonstrated no activity against established PCP either alone or when used in combination with trimethoprim; the lack of efficacy in this model may be due to the rapid metabolism of the drug. Prevention of PCP by PaCBA through inhibition of P. carinii DHPS may explain the activity of isoprinosine in decreasing the progression to AIDS in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC187944  PMID: 7687120
18.  Detection of Pneumocystis DNA in samples from patients suspected of bacterial pneumonia- a case-control study 
Pneumocystis jiroveci (formerly known as P. carinii f.sp. hominis) is an opportunistic fungus that causes Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) in immunocompromised individuals. Pneumocystis jiroveci can be detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). To investigate the clinical importance of a positive Pneumocystis-PCR among HIV-uninfected patients suspected of bacterial pneumonia, a retrospective matched case-control study was conducted.
Respiratory samples from 367 patients suspected of bacterial pneumonia were analysed by PCR amplification of Pneumocystis jiroveci. To compare clinical factors associated with carriage of P. jiroveci, a case-control study was done. For each PCR-positive case, four PCR-negative controls, randomly chosen from the PCR-negative patients, were matched on sex and date of birth.
Pneumocystis-DNA was detected in 16 (4.4%) of patients. The median age for PCR-positive patients was higher than PCR-negative patients (74 vs. 62 years, p = 0.011). PCR-positive cases had a higher rate of chronic or severe concomitant illness (15 (94%)) than controls (32 (50%)) (p = 0.004). Twelve (75%) of the 16 PCR positive patients had received corticosteroids, compared to 8 (13%) of the 64 PCR-negative controls (p < 0.001).
Detection of Pneumocystis-DNA was associated with a worse prognosis: seven (44%) of patients with positive PCR died within one month compared to nine (14%) of the controls (p = 0.01). None of the nine PCR-positive patients who survived had developed PCP at one year of follow-up.
Our data suggest that carriage of Pneumocystis jiroveci is associated with old age, concurrent disease and steroid treatment. PCR detection of P. jiroveci has low specificity for diagnosing PCP among patients without established immunodeficiency. Whether overt infection is involved in the poorer prognosis or merely reflects sub-clinical carriage is not clear. Further studies of P. jiroveci in patients receiving systemic treatment with corticosteroids are warranted.
PMCID: PMC139972  PMID: 12445330
19.  Detection of Pneumocystis carinii by fluorescent-antibody stain using a combination of three monoclonal antibodies. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1987;25(10):1837-1840.
A combination of three monoclonal antibodies, two prepared against human and one against rat Pneumocystis carinii, was used in an indirect fluorescent-antibody stain (IFA) to diagnose P. carinii in both bronchoalveolar lavage and lung biopsy specimens. This combination of monoclonal antibodies was specific for P. carinii and yielded bright fluorescence of both P. carinii cysts and trophozoites. A total of 126 specimens from 93 patients were stained for P. carinii by a toluidine blue O stain and the monoclonal IFA. Forty-five (35.7%) of these were positive for P. carinii by toluidine blue O, and 43 (34.1%) were positive by IFA. There was 98.4% agreement between both methods, with no false-positive and two false-negative occurrences by IFA. An IFA procedure with monoclonal antibodies such as those used in these studies can provide a simple, fast, and sensitive method for diagnosing P. carinii pneumonia by microbiology laboratories.
PMCID: PMC269351  PMID: 3312285
20.  Clinic HIV-Focused Features and Prevention of Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia 
To examine the association of clinic HIV-focused features and advanced HIV care experience with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) prophylaxis and development of PCP as the initial AIDS diagnosis.
Nonconcurrent prospective study.
New York State Medicaid Program.
Medicaid enrollees diagnosed with AIDS in 1990–1992.
We collected patient clinical and health care data from Medicaid files, conducted telephone interviews of directors of 125 clinics serving as the usual source of care for study patients, and measured AIDS experience as the cumulative number of AIDS patients treated by the study clinics since 1986. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia prophylaxis in the 6 months before AIDS diagnosis and PCP at AIDS diagnosis were the main outcome measures. Bivariate and multivariate analyses adjusted for clustering of patients within clinics. Of 1,876 HIV-infected persons, 44% had PCP prophylaxis and 38% had primary PCP. Persons on prophylaxis had 20% lower adjusted odds of developing PCP (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.64, 0.99). The adjusted odds of receiving prophylaxis rose monotonically with the number of HIV-focused features offered by the clinic, with threefold higher odds (95% CI 1.6, 5.7) for six versus two or fewer such features. Patients in clinics with three HIV-focused features had 36% lower adjusted odds of PCP than those in clinics with one or none. Neither clinic experience nor specialty had a significant association with prophylaxis or PCP.
PCP prevention in our study cohort appears to be more successful in clinics offering an array of HIV-focused features.
PMCID: PMC1496898  PMID: 9462490
Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP); AIDS; clinical competence; ambulatory care; case management
21.  Pneumocystis pneumonia in South African children diagnosed by molecular methods 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:26.
Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is an important cause of hospitalization and mortality in HIV-infected children. However, the incidence of PCP has been underestimated due to poor sensitivity of diagnostic tests. The use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for pneumocystis has enabled more reliable diagnosis. This study describes the incidence, clinical features and outcome of PCP in South African children diagnosed using PCR.
A prospective study of children hospitalised in South Africa with suspected PCP was done from November 2006 to August 2008. Clinical, laboratory and radiological information were collected. Lower respiratory tract specimens were obtained for PCP immunofluorescence (IF), real- time PCR for pneumocystis, bacterial and mycobacterial culture. Nasopharyngeal aspirates were taken for immunofluorescence (IF), real-time PCR for pneumocystis and PCR for respiratory viruses. A blood specimen for bacterial culture and for cytomegalovirus PCR was taken. Children were followed for the duration of their hospitalisation and the outcome was recorded.
202 children [median (interquartile range, IQR) age 3.2 (2.1– 4.6) months] were enrolled; 124 (61.4%) were HIV infected. PCP was identified in 109 (54%) children using PCR, compared to 43 (21%) using IF and Grocott staining (p < 0.0001). Most PCP cases (88, 81%) occurred in HIV-infected children. All 21 cases (19%) occurring in HIV- negative children had another risk factor for PCP. On logistic regression, predictive factors for PCP were HIV infection, lack of fever, high respiratory rate and low oxygen saturation whilst cotrimoxazole prophylaxis was protective (OR 0.24; 95% CI 0.1 to 0.5; p < 0.002). The case fatality of children with PCP was higher than those without PCP (32.1% versus 17.2%; relative risk 1.87; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.11 – 3.15). Amongst HIV-infected children, a CD4 less than 15% was the only independent predictor of mortality.
The diagnostic yield for PCP is more than 2.5 times higher on PCR than other detection methods. PCP is a very common cause of severe hypoxic pneumonia and is associated with high mortality in HIV-infected African infants.
PMCID: PMC3892044  PMID: 24410938
Pneumocystis pneumonia; HIV; Children; Prophylaxis; PCR; Diagnosis; Incidence
22.  Development and Evaluation of a Molecular Viability Assay for Pneumocystis carinii 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(5):1947-1952.
Despite recent declines in incidence, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) remains the most commonly occurring opportunistic illness among persons with AIDS in the United States. While P. carinii DNA has been detected in patient respiratory specimens and in air samples collected from various indoor environments housing PCP patients, the viability of these organisms is unknown. For this reason, we have developed and evaluated a molecular viability assay for P. carinii. This method is based upon the detection of P. carinii mRNA by a reverse transcription-PCR that employs specific primers from a member of the heat shock protein 70 family. Under optimal assay conditions, these primers were capable of detecting as few as 100 viable trophozoites as determined by ethidium bromide staining, while no signal was obtained from 106 trophozoites killed by heat, desiccation, or UV radiation. This assay was also capable of distinguishing P. carinii from other common fungi present in the air. Therefore, this molecular viability assay may be useful in conjunction with standard bioaerosol collection devices and procedures for the detection of viable P. carinii collected from various indoor environments. It may also be useful in confirming the presence of viable trophozoites in respiratory specimens collected by noninvasive techniques from putatively infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC86630  PMID: 10790126
23.  New Immunofluorescence Assays for Detection of Human Herpesvirus 8-Specific Antibodies 
Several assays have been developed for detection of immunoglobulin G antibodies to Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), including immunofluorescence assays (IFAs) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). However, the specificity and sensitivity of these assays are not completely defined due to the lack of a “gold standard.” Although IFAs based on primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) cell lines are used widely, the assays can be confounded by nonspecific reactions against cellular components and potential cross-reaction with antibodies against other herpesviruses. To provide more reliable IFAs, we established recombinant Semliki Forest viruses (rSFVs) expressing the HHV-8-specific proteins ORF73 and K8.1 and used BHK-21 cells infected with these rSFVs for IFA (ORF73-IFA and K8.1-IFA). Expression of the HHV-8-specific proteins at very high levels by the rSFV system allowed easy scoring for IFA and thereby increased specificity. The rSFV system also allowed detection of antibodies against glycosylation-dependent epitopes of K8.1. Titers measured by rSFV-based IFAs and PEL-based IFAs correlated well (correlation coefficients of >0.9), and concordances of seroreactivities between rSFV-based and PEL-based IFAs were >97% (κ > 0.93). K8.1-IFA was more sensitive than either ORF73-IFA or peptide ELISAs. Using PEL-based lytic IFA as a reference assay, the sensitivity and specificity of K8.1-IFA were estimated to be 94 and 100%, respectively. HHV-8 prevalences determined by K8.1-IFA among the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive (HIV+) Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) patients, HIV+ KS− patients, and healthy controls were 100, 65, and 6.7%, respectively, which were consistent with prior reports. Therefore, our rSFV-based IFAs may provide a specific and sensitive method for use in epidemiology studies. In addition, they will provide a basis for further development of diagnostic tests for HHV-8 infection.
PMCID: PMC95890  PMID: 10799457
24.  Multicenter, Prospective Clinical Evaluation of Respiratory Samples from Subjects at Risk for Pneumocystis jirovecii Infection by Use of a Commercial Real-Time PCR Assay▿† 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(5):1872-1878.
Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) is a common opportunistic infection. Microscopic diagnosis, including diagnosis using the Merifluor-Pneumocystis direct fluorescent antigen (MP-DFA) test, has limitations. Real-time PCR may assist in diagnosis, but no commercially validated real-time PCR assay has been available to date. MycAssay Pneumocystis is a commercial assay that targets the P. jirovecii mitochondrial large subunit (analytical detection limit, ≤3.5 copies/μl of sample). A multicenter trial recruited 110 subjects: 54 with transplants (40 with lung transplants), 32 with nonmalignant conditions, 13 with leukemia, and 11 with solid tumors; 9 were HIV positive. A total of 110 respiratory samples (92% of which were bronchoalveolar lavage [BAL] specimens) were analyzed by PCR. Performance was characterized relative to investigator-determined clinical diagnosis of PCP (including local diagnostic tests), and PCR results were compared with MP-DFA test results for 83 subjects. Thirteen of 14 subjects with PCP and 9/96 without PCP (including 5 undergoing BAL surveillance after lung transplantation) had positive PCR results; sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV, respectively) were 93%, 91%, 59%, and 99%, respectively. Fourteen of 83 subjects for whom PCR and MP-DFA test results were available had PCP; PCR sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV were 93%, 90%, 65%, and 98%, respectively, and MP-DFA test sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV were 93%, 100%, 100%, and 98%. Of the 9 PCR-positive subjects without PCP, 1 later developed PCP. The PCR diagnostic assay compares well with clinical diagnosis using nonmolecular methods. Additional positive results compared with the MP-DFA test may reflect low-level infection or colonization.
PMCID: PMC3122670  PMID: 21367988
25.  Combined Quantification of Pulmonary Pneumocystis jirovecii DNA and Serum (1→3)-β-d-Glucan for Differential Diagnosis of Pneumocystis Pneumonia and Pneumocystis Colonization 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(10):3380-3388.
This study assessed a quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay for Pneumocystis jirovecii quantification in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples combined with serum (1→3)-β-d-glucan (BG) level detection to distinguish Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) from pulmonary colonization with P. jirovecii. Forty-six patients for whom P. jirovecii was initially detected in BAL fluid samples were retrospectively enrolled. Based on clinical data and results of P. jirovecii detection, 17 and 29 patients were diagnosed with PCP and colonization, respectively. BAL fluid samples were reassayed using a qPCR assay targeting the mitochondrial large subunit rRNA gene. qPCR results and serum BG levels (from a Fungitell kit) were analyzed conjointly. P. jirovecii DNA copy numbers were significantly higher in the PCP group than in the colonization group (1.3 × 107 versus 3.4 × 103 copies/μl, P < 0.05). A lower cutoff value (1.6 × 103 copies/μl) achieving 100% sensitivity for PCP diagnosis and an upper cutoff value (2 × 104 copies/μl) achieving 100% specificity were determined. Applying these two values, 13/17 PCP patients and 19/29 colonized patients were correctly assigned to their patient groups. For the remaining 14 patients with P. jirovecii DNA copy numbers between the cutoff values, PCP and colonization could not be distinguished on the basis of qPCR results. Four of these patients who were initially assigned to the PCP group presented BG levels of ≥100 pg/ml. The other 10 patients, who were initially assigned to the colonization group, presented BG levels of <100 pg/ml. These results suggest that the combination of the qPCR assay, applying cutoff values of 1.6 × 103 and 2 × 104 copies/μl, and serum BG detection, applying a 100 pg/ml threshold, can differentiate PCP and colonization diagnoses.
PMCID: PMC3811637  PMID: 23903553

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